Palestinian Archeology Gets Int'l Boost Ahead of 2011 Statehood Plan

Netherlands supports upkeep of 5,000-year-old West Bank city to advance Palestinian cultural identity.

The Dutch government, through the United Nation's culture organization, has donated 300,000 euros to the Palestinian Authority, meant to finance the excavation and conservation of an ancient city situated in the West Bank city of Nablus, the Ma'an news agency reported on Tuesday.

Along with the donation, the PA is also expected to receive students from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, who will provide technical expertise in the excavation of Tell Balata.

The site, according to the Ma'an report, is listed by UNESCO in the Inventory of Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites of Potential Outstanding Universal Value in Palestine, with experts estimating some of its towers and buildings from the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age dating back 5,000 years.

The Netherlands' representative to the PA, Jack Twiss Quarles van Ufford, said the initiative was meant to bolster PA Prime Minster Salam Fayyad's plan for institutional building within the Palestinian Authority.

"The creation of institutions can only be sustainable if it goes hand in hand with the strengthening of the cultural identity of the Palestinian people ahead of a negotiated agreement on statehood," Twiss said, adding that "sites like Tell Balata are simply too important to be neglected.